One of the most complicated concepts for new social media users, is the concept and use of a hashtag. "What is it? What does it do? I can't read my news feed - there are too many # and @ and I don't understand it!" Yes this is something we hear often. Because we offer PR and content marketing services and manage social media platforms for some of our clients, hashtags is something we frequently use as well as train and advise clients on.
So what is a hashtag exactly?
Hashtags act like a funnel. Across the web or platform, millions of users may be using a single hashtag, bringing all the platform activity together. This means that even people who don't follow you, or whom you don't follow, can interact and engage with each other. A hashtag opens your post, your valuable content, to the world.
The rules to using a hashtag are simple:
Overusing the hashtag frustrates your followers and adds absolutely no value to your post. It forces your post onto users where it will also frustrate non-followers for being irrelevant to their search or interest.
Using a hashtag for business
When it comes to using hashtags for business, you can use specific hashtags to highlight your products, services, company news, most recent research or events. On our own Twitter profile, we often use the hashtag #ClientPublicity when one of our clients have been mentioned in the media, as well as #ClientNews when we've distributed a media release for a client. Another fun one we have is #Uitstappie - when the office staff go to an event or function.
Hashtags and your conference
On the left you can also see the way two organisations use hashtags to promote their conferences. In the one, the hashtag is included in the pinned tweet so it is right at the top of the page. Delegates can thus see the hashtag #2014PBS at first visit to the page.
#SAPICS2014 provides a good example of various tweets from the conference follow each other on the newsfeed, all including the hashtag.
It's important to remember the following when using a hashtag for a conference:
* Inform your delegates about the hashtag. Promote it on your own platforms as well as in email communication to delegates.
* Get your speakers on board. Speakers are advocates for the conference - have them use the hashtag to promote their sessions and let them include it on their presentations.
* Use the hashtag on as much conference material as possible. This includes programs, interactive screens,billboards, posters etc.
* Monitor your hashtag. If delegates post questions, you can respond quickly and efficiently.
* Analyse your hashtag. Various free and paid tools are available online.
Once your conference has wrapped up, you can use the data to analyse how successful your hashtag was and take away key learnings on how to improve your next event.